The United States announced on Wednesday that it would deliver 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine within months, a decision that helped break a diplomatic deadlock with Germany over how best to help Kyiv in its war against Russia. .
President Joe Biden announced the decision in remarks at the White House, saying the tanks were needed to help the Ukrainians “improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain.”
Biden thanked Germany for its decision to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. He said that Germany has really developed.
“The expectation from Russia is that we’re going to break,” Biden said of the U.S. and European allies. But we are totally, completely and utterly united.
The United States was cool with the idea of deploying the Abrams tanks, but had to change its approach to persuade Germany to send its more easily used Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Still, the Abrams — among the most powerful American tanks — won’t be heading to Ukraine anytime soon.
Top administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision said delivery of the Abrams would take months, not weeks, and described the move as providing for Ukraine’s long-term defense.
Members of the Ukrainian military will be trained in the use of the Abrams. Despite being a highly sophisticated and expensive weapon, the Abrams is difficult to maintain and provides a logistical resupply challenge because it runs on jet fuel.
The total cost of an Abrams tank can vary, and can exceed $10 million per tank including training and maintenance.
The decisions by Washington and Berlin come as Western allies are helping Ukraine prepare for a possible spring counteroffensive to try to force Russia out of territory it holds. .
Biden said there is no aggressive threat to Russia.
Biden has spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Schulz on several occasions this month about helping Ukraine, senior administration officials said. He spoke again on Wednesday with Scholes, as well as British Prime Minister Rashid Sink and French President Emmanuel Macron, both of whom are close allies in helping Ukraine.
“Today’s announcement was the result of really good diplomatic discussions as part of our regular and ongoing close consultations with allies and partners on security assistance to Ukraine,” an official said.
The official said further announcements from US allies about additional armored vehicle capabilities are expected.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any shipment of Abrams would be a waste of money because they “burn out” like other tanks.
“I’m sure many experts understand the absurdity of this idea. This project is technologically disastrous,” he said. “But above all, it increases the capacity of the Ukrainian army to increase. These tanks are burning like all the others,” Peskov told reporters.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday that the US decision on the Abrams was part of discussions with the Germans about their reluctance to supply tanks and to show that US commitment is important.
“The US was ready to make a significant commitment to help them,” the source said. “Tanks are a critical capability and that’s what we were willing to do if American leadership was taken.”
The United States will provide the tanks through a fund known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Biden administration to buy weapons from industry instead of drawing from existing U.S. weapons stockpiles. Buying them is a slow process.